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The Seven Sentences of Jesus on the Cross (1)

The Seven Sentences of Jesus on the Cross (1)

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Published by Joe Xavier

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Published by: Joe Xavier on Oct 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Jesus died on the Cross to redeem mankind, to save us from our sins, because he lovesus. He was mocked, scorned, and tortured in the praetorium; carried his cross up theVia Dolorosa in Jerusalem to Calvary, nailed to the Cross, hung between two commoncriminals, and suffered an indescribable end. The last seven expressions of Jesus on theCross are known as his Seven Words.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
Gospel of Luke 23:34
Jesus says this first sentence only in the Gospel of Luke, just after he was crucified bythe soldiers on Golgotha, with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Thetiming of this suggests that Jesus asks his Father to primarily forgive his enemies, thesoldiers, who have scourged him, mocked him, tortured him, and who have just nailedhim to the cross. But could this not also apply to his Apostles and companions who havedeserted him, to Peter who has denied him three times, to the fickle crowd, who onlydays before praised him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and then days later chose him over Barabbas to be crucified? Could this not also apply to us, who daily forget him in our lives?Does he react angrily? No, he asks his Father to forgive them, because they are ignorant!At the height of his physical suffering, his Divine love prevails and He asks His Father to forgive his enemies.Right up to his final hours on earth, Jesus preaches forgiveness. He teaches forgivenessin the Lord's prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass againstus [Matthew 6:12]." When asked by Peter, how many times should we forgive someone,Jesus answers seventy times seven [Matthew 18:21-22]. At the Last Supper, Jesusexplains his crucifixion to his Apostles when he tells them to drink of the cup: "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for theforgiveness of sins [Matthew 26:27-28]." He forgives the paralytic at Capernaum [Mark 2:5], and the adulteress caught in the act and about to be stoned [John 8:1-11]. And evenfollowing his Resurrection, his first act is to commission his disciples to forgive, theScriptual foundation for the Sacrament of Confession: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If youforgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if the retain the sins of any, they are retained[John 20:22-23]."
"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Gospel of Luke 23:43
 Now it is not just the religious leaders or the soldiers that mock Jesus, but even one of the criminals, a downward progression of mockery. But the criminal on the right speaksup for Jesus, explaining the two criminals are receiving their just due, and then pointingto Jesus, says, "this man has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks,"Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power [Luke 23:42]." Whatwonderful faith this repentant sinner had in Jesus - far more than the doubting Thomas,one of his own Apostles! Ignoring his own suffering, Jesus mercifully responds with Hissecond word.The second word again is about forgiveness, this time directed to a sinner. Just as thefirst word, this Biblical expression again is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Jesusshows his Divinity by opening heaven for a repentant sinner - such generosity to a manthat only asked to be remembered!
"Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son".Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother."
Gospel of John 19:26-27 
Jesus and Mary are together again, at the beginning of his ministry in Cana and now atthe end of his public ministry at the foot of the Cross. What sorrow must fill her heart, tosee her Son mocked, tortured, and now just crucified. Once again, a sword piercesMary's soul, the sword predicted by Simeon at the Temple [Luke 2:35]. . There are four at the foot of the cross, Mary his Mother, John, the disciple whom he loved, Mary of Cleopas, his mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene. His third word is addressed to Maryand John, the only eye-witness of the Gospel writers.But again Jesus rises above the occasion, and his concerns are for the ones that love him.The good son that He is, Jesus is concerned about taking care of his mother. In fact, this passage offers proof that Jesus was the only child of Mary, because if he did have brothers or sisters, they would have provided for her. But Jesus looks to John to care for her.St. Joseph is noticeably absent. The historic paintings, such as Tondo-doni byMichelangelo and The Holy Family by Raphael, suggest Joseph was a considerablyolder man. St. Joseph had probably died by the time of the crucifixion, or else he wouldhave been the one to take care of Mary. Early Christian traditions and the second-centuryapocryphal Protoevangelium of James hold that Joseph was a widower, and his children by his widow were the "brothers and sisters of Jesus."Another striking phrase indicating Jesus was an only child is Mark 6:3, referring toJesus: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses andJudas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" Now if James, Joses and Judasand Simon were also natural sons of Mary, Jesus would not have been called the "son of Mary."
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
 Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
This is the only expression of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Both Gospelsrelate that it was in the ninth hour, after 3 hours of darkness, that Jesus cried out thisfourth word. The ninth hour was three o'clock in Palestine. Just after He speaks, Mark relates with a horrible sense of finality, "And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed hislast [Mark 15:37]."One is struck by the anguished tone of this expression compared to the first three wordsof Jesus. This cry is from the painful heart of the human Jesus who must feel deserted byHis Father and the Holy Spirit, not to mention his earthly companions the Apostles. As if to emphasize his loneliness, Mark even has his loved ones "looking from afar," not closeto him as in the Gospel of John. Jesus feels separated from his Father. He is now allalone, and he must face death by himself.But is not this exactly what happens to all of us when we die? We too will be all alone atthe time of death! Jesus completely lives the human experience as we do, and by doingso, frees us from the clutches of sin.There can not be a more dreadful moment in the history of man as this moment. Jesuswho came to save us is crucified, and He realizes the horror of what is happening andwhat He now is enduring. He is about to be engulfed in the raging sea of sin. Eviltriumphs, as Jesus admits: "But this is your hour [Luke 22:53]." But it is only for amoment. The burden of all the sins of humanity for a moment overwhelm the humanityof our Jesus.But does this not have to happen? Does this not have to occur if Jesus is to save us? It isin defeat of his humanity that the Divine plan of His Father, and as the Trinity, His planwill be completed! It is by His death that we are redeemed.
"I thirst"
Gospel of John 19:28
The fifth sentence of Jesus is His only human expression of His physical suffering. Jesusis now in shock. The wounds inflicted upon him in the scourging, the crowning withthorns, and the nailing upon the cross are now taking their toll, especially after losing blood on the three-hour walk through the city of Jerusalem to Golgotha on the Way of the Cross. Systematic studies of the Shroud of Turin, as reported by Gerald O'Collins in
 Interpreting Jesus
, indicate the passion of Jesus was far worse than one could imagine.The Shroud has been exhaustively studied by every possible scientific maneuver, and thescientific burden of proof is now on those who do not accept the Shroud as the burialcloth of Jesus.

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